If you value your firearms, the days of simply storing guns in an unlocked closet or on display in a glass-fronted gun cabinet are gone. Firearms need to be locked up in some way. Most of us find the common sense answer is a gun safe of some kind. These range from a basic locker for a few heirlooms to huge fire-proof vaults that can secure dozens of long guns and handguns. If you store your guns in a safe, here are a couple of common sense tips …
First, install a simple hydrometer to measure the humidity in the vault. Keep an eye on it, especially at first, to determine if you need to install the second piece of common sense equipment … a dehumidification system of some type. This all sounds a lot more complicated and expensive than it is. A hydrometer will run you less than $50 and if you need to reduce humidity there are both inexpensive chemical and electric options.
Nearly all safes are set up to store your long guns vertically, meaning standing up. When you store standing guns remember–BUTTS UP!
In the long run storing guns, especially wood-stocked guns, butts down will damage the gun. Over the years, oil from the metal parts will migrate dow a gun stored butt down and be absorbed into the wood. You can readily see this damage on the stocks of older guns. It ranges from chips and cracks where the metal meets the wood to large cracks that would require restocking to repair.
Even synthetic stocked guns should be stored barrels down, as this allows oil, grease and dirt to migrate away from the action rather than into it. The problems this creates don’t happen overnight, but looking at older used guns that come into the sporting goods stores where I work, you can immediately tell how rifles and shotguns were stored. Improper storage hurts the value of these guns for retail, too.
No matter where you store your guns, they should not be stored in cases of any kind. Only a few, very expensive types of gun cases adequately deal with moisture, dirt and ultimately corrosion during long term storage. Keep the guns out in the air and where you can see them every time you open the safe. That way there’s a better chance you’ll note any developing problems before they cause serious, expensive or irreparable damage.